Guest Author - Susan Taylor
Since I started growing orchids, I have discovered, or heard tips that have made a big difference to me. I’d like to share some of them and if you have any I’d love to hear from you either via e-mail or on the Orchid Forum.
Staking. I have more different kinds of stakes than you can imagine, but most of the time I only use one kind—bamboo shish-kabob skewers purchased at the grocery store. These are about 10” long, have one end that is sharpened and they are perfect for staking up all but very tall or very large plants. Another thing I have done for those long inflorescences is to take a thin branch from a tree and dry it. This provides a natural looking stake that can be cut to any length you want.
Plant Clips. There are a number of vendors on the web, or at most orchid shows, for small butterfly, dragon fly, bee, clips. The clips are invaluable in keeping your orchids attached to stakes and for keeping spikes upright to display flowers perfectly. The source I most often use is Chula Orchids. Scroll down until you see “Dragonflies, bees, butterfly clips”. I use these for another purpose, too—to show the color of the flowers that will be on each plant. I attach a colored clip to each of my plants, either on the pots or on a stake. The color of the clip indicates the color the flower will be. This makes finding plants easier when you are doing a monthly inventory (see my articles on monthly measuring and Orchid Journal), and is kind of fun and decorative!
Grow Dendrobiums in hanging baskets. When I got my first Dendrobium, I spent most of my time trying to figure out how to keep it from falling over. Because many of them are tall and it is recommended that they be grown in small pots, they tend to be top heavy. A friend of mine grows hers in wooden orchid baskets which eliminate the falling over and staking problem. If you have a place to hang plants, you might try this.
Colored Electrical Tape. Use different colored electrical tape—available at any hardware store--to indicate special needs plants, or to indicate those that you need to give special attention to for follow up for pests or fungi. This works especially well when you have a number of plants and gives you a quick and easy way to identify plants. I use one color for extra watering, another color for plants in dormancy, another for scale infestations (these get checked on every time I’m close to the plants so I can catch any additional scale).